topos-10

2011        Mediterranean, European Heritage days, Larnaka Municipal Gallery, Larnaka, Cyprus. Dr Eleni Nikita, extract from catalogue; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DBgq_tVcLY The starting point and challenge that led to the creation of Lia Lapithi’s “Giakoumis, a Cypriot poodle” is a sign by the Larnaca Salt Lake, which invites the public to follow the Kypris Aphrodite route. The artist stood by the sign, looked out toward the sea and embarked on her own routes, though not inland, but on the waters of Cyprus the Mediterranean Sea, located at “the center of the earth” and the history of mankind; in the sea of Laestrygones, the Cyclops and Lotus Eaters, the Sirens, the Circe, Scylla and Charybdis, Calypso and Nausicaa. The sea that was both blessed and hated by the gods, who gave its people prosperity as well as countless suffering. The sea which to this day knows the same problems and whose peoples are still striving for peaceful coexistence. During a performance the artist takes these photos and cuts out the horizon. “What would the world be like without a horizon and what would happen if sea levels rose and there was no land to fight over?” asks the artist. The photos without the horizon, but with the coordinates of the location at which they were taken, recorded at the bottom of the photographs, are printed on large transparent plexiglass, and hung in the space of the Municipal Gallery. The viewer is invited to traverse the virtual sea with its many moods and many more shades of blue. Placing the viewer inside an absolute blue, the artist wants to instigate specific thoughts and feelings. The blue, which is literally the color of the sea, is also a spiritual, transcendental, metaphysical color. It is the color of infinity and the void, the color of absolute sensitivity and the symbol of eternity. Thus, the viewer, under the immense power of suggestion caused by color, is transferred to other panes full of symbolisms and concepts.  The viewer is drawn out of this mental and emotional state by a dog, Giakoumis, which he meets in his wanderings of the deep blue sea. Giakoumis struggles with the waters from which only its small head emerges and, as the viewer will note, the rest of its body is projected on to the floor. Giakoumis is a classic Cypriot poodle developed from the genes of the ancient Greek original pedigree. The questions born to the viewer are the questions raised by the creator of the project herself. “Will Giakoumis be able to keep its head above the water to survive, to continue to exist, struggling alone against the force of the water? Does anyone care if the dog sinks?” This is a multi-meaning work with multilevel symbolisms and allegories. Lia Lapithi’s little Cypriot dog recalls to the viewer’s mind one of Francisco Goya’s «black paintings», found on the walls of his house. The painting (which was removed from the house and is now at the Prado Museum), shows the head of a small black dog that looks (eagerly?) ahead. Its head looks like a black mark, lost in the vastness of a large undefined area, the black lower part of which, hides the dog’s body. The painting reflects Goya’s negative psychological condition, his desperation and internal conflict, following an adventure with his health, which brought him face to face with death, and also the depression caused by the grim political situation and conflicts in Spain which resulted in the creation of his series of works “The disasters of War.”  Lia Lapithi, with the help of intertextuality (if I may borrow a term from literature) extends her hand to an old master, thus claiming the history of art while simultaneously illuminating timeless conditions and problems.  It is obvious that what we have here are open works that will spark as many debates as there are viewers. I fear that with further theorizing, I may simplify multi-meaning messages, limiting their multi-layered meanings and fall into the trap of manipulating the viewer, depriving him of the opportunity to trace them for himself. Dr. Eleni Nikita See also: http://www.loidl-art.com/images/RYTMOGRAM/Lapithi.pdf http://www.openpr.de/news/164105/Ausstellungseroeffnung-Lia-Lapithi-in-der-Galerie-RYTMOGRAM-Bad-Ischl.html Interview -Your second journey sailing in the Mediterranean Sea for 330 Nautical Miles. Would you say this is a Celebration of the Sea?  The sea seems uninfected; there is only an expanse of water, like a slate, calm sea. It’s both a place and placeless, particular and universal. Given that there’s nothing to identify out there, no conflict. Did you plot the course of events beforehand -330 nM documents the waypoints along the route from the Ionian Sea to the Saronic Gulf. The coordinates, temperature, sea depth, time, weather conditions, wind direction and speed, direction and nautical Miles from each waypoint, were then recorded on each photograph. In total 44 waypoints were photographed from the boat. During the sail in this part of the Mediterranean, the sea was very calm and in most cases there was optimum wind. The route was taken from the 19-29th April 2006 during which there were mostly sunny and partly cloudy days and it rained only once on the last day. – At first glance these shots could easily been have spotted in a ‘postcard’ shop, or seen as a colour-chart of nuances of blue that might have once been appreciated by a painter – Like a painters palette, like an infinite mirror of blue shades depicting our Blue Planet.  The colour of the Mediterranean blue is so spectacular, so difficult to find elsewhere.  We went sailing in Northern Europe and the water there was so dull and greenish. There is something so interesting in the quality of the images because like paintings, they capture aspects of the water that are not visible to the naked eye, such as when the water is moving a touch too fast to be seen, the shots hold on to this absolute stillness. To many the sea symbolizes freedom yet the ends of the Earth (the polar ice) are melting and all coastal cities could submerge by the end of the Century, becoming new Atlantis. In 1984 Greenpeace International set up a research programme to help define what their Mediterranean Campaign should highlight. Campaigners decided on 4 issues on which they could support their arguments and actions with documented facts: pollution, destructive fisheries, the threat to wildlife habitats and the potentially catastrophic presence of nuclear installations, weapons and waste. To this day these issues unfortunately still stand. – The work is very atmospheric even beautiful to the bleakness of the ecosystem you mention. Yet in many ways it seems that the future here is missing in this journey. In some cases you show the photographs before they have had the horizon cut off. Why have you cut off the horizon in all these shots? …. – No sky, no horizon, like an empty heaven. It is totally disorienting. We are becoming cut off from nature due to so many reasons. Its kind of what the EU encourages fisherman to an early retirement and pay to train them for new careers in tourism, and its not eco-tourism but mass tourism. It’s like a struggle to keep afloat… -Breath in, peace out (Inhale-Exhale). Do you think that the wars of the future will be all about water? – Wars are happening NOW causing a vast amount of ecological damage to everything that comes in contact with it. In the summer of 2006, in northern Israel, incoming rockets destroyed 16,500 acres of forests and trapping gazelles, coyotes, jackals, rabbits and snakes and grazing fields.  Mount Naftali was not a natural forest, but one meticulously planted. These mountains were bare when Israel was established in 1948, taking 50 to 60 years. About one million trees were destroyed. Lebanon on the other hand also had 35,000 tons of oil spill from an Israeli air strikes causing environmental destruction into the Eastern Mediterranean sea destroying marine life, including bluefin-tuna and green turtles. More than 1.100 square miles have been affected by the oil spill. Had it not been for the prevailing winds and sea currents, the spill could easily have reached Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. …and in most cases we only protect what concerns us. – The images of the Sea were taken from onboard of a 54-foot yacht and only by assembling the waypoints and data can the viewer assemble the whole journey. This kind of work is similar to 82,5km though now it’s translated into nM.  It has a visual relationship to the feeling of oceanic expanse, projected repetitively one after the other, in a continuous never ending loop, making the assembly near-impossible to take in. How long apart where each image taken? Also here did you choose not to include people in any of the images? – Similar concept to 82.5km journey, each photo of the sea was taken at a waypoint (a point at which the boat changed direction), and again the journey led me, there was no ‘decisive moment’, there was inaction, I was just a pawn in a bigger game playing along, though here the images have no beginning-middle- end, nothing dramatic found on the way, repetition and at any given moment something could change the images (the forces of the elements |wind, rain, storm etc)…but nothing happened except on the last day when rain quietly fell. Each image was taken a few hours apart and then looped as an eternal cycle of life that at the end of a show just shuts up. I was sailing offshore too far away for any people to be present in the sea. The point is that I was taking photos at the various waypoints of the journey meaning that we were in a constant move, like the projections constantly changing images of a repeating seascape. By projecting them I was also striving for an absence of materialism. – Why did you choose to travel so far to the Ionian in Greece and not towards a neighboring country, say Turkey?  Was your decision a political one? – Our neighbours have made it a political one, not me!  One can still get arrested travelling with the Cypriot flag in Turkish Waters. Even recently, there has been an incident where an English couple, the Watts, were escorted out of Turkish waters by a gunboat because theιr boat was registered in Cyprus and had the Cypriot flag. One would have though that Turkey would want to show that it could be a good EU member but obviously the Cyprus issue runs deep. After the Pedieos project, I seriously didn’t want to put my life at risk again.  – In this series you have coded information with a series of numbers and time, that reminds me of the date-time-minute-frame numbers used in editing of raw film footage or a sea travelling log-book. How important is the element of time in this journey? – Data is a universal language. To me all this information operates like a flashback; it reminds me to look back, literally, or to look a second time, metaphorically, to look more and try to decode this information. Trying not to get lost. Photographs are after all the medium to preserve memories, or setting small histories within bigger ones and adjusting time.  It also makes these images self reflective in theιr repetition or as fragments of sea and Time. We all encode our experiences of Time at different rates. We stretch and condense time until it suits our needs. The perception of Time does not move in a linear trajectory and we don’t all follow Time using the same system. Time, like the Sea, is something one cannot hold onto, it is somehow part of a much bigger system. I wanted the stills to be surrounded by as much silence as possible. The viewer may use the control panel and ‘Time-delay’ the rotating projection, even freeze time. – Is the passage more important than the landfall? – No. The landfall is always the most satisfying moment. Here you never arrive. Relating Prints on A4 paper: